Fox and CBS are going ahead with sharing plans, but the rest could be weeks away
Normally, this would be the week that the press and advertisers alike would be treated to the unveiling of the broadcast network’s fall TV lineup. But this is not a normal year.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused netowrks to scrap the annual four-day ad sales pitch known as the TV Upfronts, where executives try to sell the majority of their ad time for the coming year. But not only as the global health crisis made large in-person gatherings impossible, it effectively shut down production, and pilot season with it.
That’s made building out a fall lineup a much more delicate process, with many networks deciding to delay finalizing plnas until they can better understand when production might be able to safely resume. But some networks are going forward anyway in an effort to calm advertisers’ nerves.
Fox, as it has done every year, put out its fall lineup on the Monday morning of Upfront Week. The broadcaster filled its schedule with two shows — “Filthy Rich” and “Next” — that were initially earmarked for this season. Those two are already shot and completed. Animated series such as “Bob’s Burgers,” “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons” that have been unimpacted by the shutdown will be a go, and the network acquired the first season of Spectrum Originals’ “Bad Boys” spinoff, “L.A. Finest” (which had been initially developed for NBC a few years ago). Live sports like WWE and the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” make up the rest of the schedule, though the NFL’s 2020 season is at best on shaky ground.
Fox left most of its upcoming original programming for midseason, including its one new series order, the Mayim Bialik comedy “Call Me Kat.”
CBS is the only other network to set an exact date for its fall schedule release, which will come next week as part of ViacomCBS’ two-day viritual upfront. The broadcaster is already committed to bringing back 23 of its primetime series, along with three new ones.
The CW, a joint venture of ViacomCBS and AT&T’s Warner Media, is expected to announce its fall lineup in its usual Upfront Week time slot Thursday morning. To help fill out the lineup until production resumes, the network acquired the one and only season of “Swamp Thing” from WarnerMedia’s DC Universe streaming service and two seasons of the just-canceled “Tell Me a Story” from CBS All Access.
NBC will likely announce its fall schedule in the upcoming weeks or months. Since the network has already renewed most of its shows, the fall lineup is expected to be similar to previous fall schedules. On Monday, NBCUniversal held a virtual upfront-like presentation that was exclusively focused on advertising.
A rep for ABC did respond to TheWrap’s request for clarity on when the Disney-owned broadcaster might put out a schedule, though one media buyer told TheWrap he doesn’t expect anything from ABC until after Memorial Day.